Preserved Lemons



I love citrus. Yet, I was still hesitant to try preserving lemons.
Would the salty sour ruin my citrus? That fresh lemon scent so perfect for summery drinks and puckery desserts was, making it tough to imagine the final flavour.
I didn’t care. It’s citrus season, so when I saw the huge bag of glowing lemony goodness, I knew I’d be overwhelmed by tea and desserts, so giving this time honoured tradition wouldn’t be too tough to try.

Long before the rush of the Holidays set in I chopped and salted — and waited. Only hearing of the magic of preserved lemons, I had to wait until, and perhaps a little early, just this week. The flavour was of mellowed lemons, with a hint of caper. I combined it with a traditional spice mixture of cumin & cinnamon for a Moroccan tangine.
But first, you have to make the lemons:

PRESERVED LEMONS

6 Lemons
1  Cup Coarse Sea Salt
3 – 4 Bay Leaves (optional)
3 – 4  1/2 Pint Jars

Thoroughly rinse lemons and give them a good scrub.
Trim each end from the lemons and quarter lengthwise into wedges.
Roll each wedge into the salt to coat evenly and place into each jar until full, squishing as necessary and extracting juice.
Push bay leaf into jar, if desired.
Using another lemon wedge, squeeze to immerse prepared lemons in juice.
Seal jar and store in refrigerator at least 3 weeks or up to 6 months.
In the first few days, rotate and tip jars to disperse salt and make sure everything is submerged.
Test after about 3 weeks. The skins should be softened and flavourful after rinsing.

Maple Pumpkin Butter


I was a little hesitant on making this. I didn’t think I’d know what to do with it honestly. When one of my many pumpkins started going (and I’d found that I’d already made my repitoire of pumpkin goodies) I figured it was time.
Tasting along the way, this sugar-free variety kept it’s promises of tasting like the best of all pumpkin pies, but did I want that on my toast every morning? As delicious as it was, only days after making it, I’m finding that I didn’t make enough. A spoonful into pancake batter or with soy milk for french toast, pumpkin butter is perking up and making already great treats extraordinary.

MAPLE PUMPKIN BUTTER

2 Cups Pumpkin Purée
1 1/2 Cups Apple Juice
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger

Mix everything together in a food processor until well blended.
Add the mixture to a large saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Continue to cook on a low heat until the colour deepens and the purée reduces, about 1 hr.
Store in an air tight container or can to preserve, if desired.

Rose Infused Strawberry Sorbet


Surrounded by strawberry season, I over thoughtfully tired my search for something outstanding and creative to present for more than just shortcake post of yesteryear.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, strawberry shortcake is such a classic it’s even got a scented doll named after it — I just wanted more. Unconventional combinations like balsamic, basil and black pepper have been surfacing for some time. and recently, I was confronted with a pastry chef’s attempt at combining all three. Not something I wanted to re-create, unfortunately.

I could have almost come full circle with homage to most people’s Nanas’ Summer Strawberry Pie but let me tell you, it’s been so hot and muggy these past couple of days, just the idea of boiling water made me want to sweat.

Naturally in this heat, only Yours Truly would hit the strawberry patch at high noon. There’s something pretty spectacular about sneaking a warm, so perfectly ripe summer strawberry. Even tasting like the homemade jam it will soon become, I couldn’t help imagining a slip n’ slide ride to get my overheated self back to the stifling car.

I’ve guessed that my designated, appropriately red, strawberry picking bucket can hold about 10 or so pounds of berries. We like the berries, but whatever can’t get consumed by the masses within a couple of days by the periodical snack or stuffed crêpes for breakfast, will end up hulled and frozen on parchment for bagging and later enjoyment.

To my delight, I found that a medium Ziploc bag holds about 1 Lb of frozen berries. Perfect for making one of the tastiest and simplest strawberry treats concocted to sooth the heat. Really. Don’t let the rose syrup be your deal breaker, it’s really quite easy as long as you can get your hand on a rose. It’s a wonderful combination that’s tips this sorbet over the edge of great and frozen berries are everywhere, so you don’t even have to pick and hull them yourself.

ROSE INFUSED STRAWBERRY SORBET

1 Lb Frozen Strawberries
3/4 Cup Rose Syrup

Add strawberries to food processor, pulsing at first to chop. Scrape sides with a spatula.
With the motor running, add the rose syrup through the feed tube, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary, blending until smooth.

If not serving immediately,  transfer sorbet into a low sided container, cover tightly and freeze.

New Potato Salad With Scape Salsa Verde



Of course with a long weekend ahead I would be lost without a handy potato salad recipe, so here it is.
I’m sure not too many of you miss the heavy mayo laden with egg and celery version but not to fret, I’m sure it will still be offered – somewhere, you can just bring this along to the BBQ instead.

Easy, light and FRESH I’ve finally found another way to use up those tasty garlic scapes as the main ingredient in this salsa verde style dressing.

NEW POTATO SALAD WITH SCAPE SALSA VERDE

3 Lbs New Red Potatoes
8-10 Garlic Scapes, trimmed
1/4 Cup Basil Leaves, packed
1/3 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, packed
1 Tablespoon Capers, about 30
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Wash and boil the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover.
Cook potatoes until just tender, or al dente, so you are able to cut through them easily.
Meanwhile, trim the seed buds from the top of the scapes and discard.
Combine the scapes along with the basil and parsley, pulsing to finely chop.
Add the capers, mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar, continuing to blend while drizzling in the oil through the feed tube.
Scrape down from the sides, taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Drain the potatoes. Once they are cool enough to handle quarter them into even sized wedges, unless they are very small.
Add the potatoes to a large bowl and add about half of the dressing at first. Toss well to coat adding more to your liking.
Serve at room temperature.

Want more potato salad? Try my other, Warm New Potato Dandelion Greens Salad, if you still have a few weeds that need eating from your yard.

Adventures In Eating


Omnivorous or not, a trip to Chicago without a dining destination might leave you a little stumped.
While I’m sure the city is drenched in fabulous restaurant choices, left on your own without a little guidance one might only find an pierogi, an all dressed hot dog or a deep dish pizza on the menu.

Naturally, it was long before Oprah tried her hand at veganism, I’m sure there were options, although hidden, throughout her Windy City. Stumble upon Fox & Obel, or carefully read through some menus and you might find some contributions to the herbivore fare like grilled vegetable paninis and some very interesting, but tasty salads, like this one inspired by the Corner Bakery Café.

Sweet, with the only zip pretty much coming from the flavour of the ginger and finishing with a hint of cilantro, it was a great salad all on it’s own, but it did go well with that crisp panini and I’m sure anything grilled for summer as well.

Perfect flash of colour for your July celebration table.
Happy Canada Day everyone.

EDAMAME SALAD

Edamame (Soy Beans), about 1 cup podded
1 Large Carrot, Coarsely grated, equivalent to 1 cup
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 English Cucumber, diced, about 1 cup
3 Scallions, finely diced
2″ Piece Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated
Fistful of Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
Fistful of Fresh Basil, finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
1 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch Salt

Finely grate the ginger using the fine grater of a box grater or a zester and squeeze excess juice from any stringy remains.
Add the ginger and juice to a food processor or a wide enough cup to handle an immersion blender, along with the agave and olive oil. Mix well to emulsify.
Steam the beans or boil in their pods for about 3 – 4 minutes.
Drain the beans and blanch under cold water briefly to cool.
Finely dice the cucumber.
Peel and finely dice the scallions and coarsely shred the carrot on the large hole of a box grater, or cut into matchsticks.
Shell the beans, discarding the pods, and add, along with the other vegetables into a large bowl.
Wash, dry and finely chop the basil and cilantro.
Pour over the dressing and sprinkle over the herbs, tossing to coat everything well.

Forbidden.


I never would have thought that summer BBQ’s would match up so well with Asian inspired salads.
I’ve tested this recipe a few times now at a few outdoor gatherings and I have to tell you, it held up pretty well beside the best of potato salads.

I’ve had this rice in my pantry collection for a while, you see I have a nasty habit of food shopping. Yes, admitted, I have more varieties of grains than summer sandles, which is so goes against all that is womanly. I just can’t help it though. Who knew there were so many types of quinoa, couscous or rice to be had and to hoard?

Black, or Forbidden Rice is an Asian heirloom variety of rice that is not glutenous and is very high in fiber as well as iron. It’s Forbidden name comes from it traditionally being served to the Emperors of Ancient China, thus being restricted from common consumption. Now, of course it can be found and even trademarked by a few different rice producers, sold in popular grocers and heath food stores.

Word to the wise though, check over your rice as you would lentils for forbidden objects, like pebbles. It’s heirloom and wholesome, right down to the ground it’s grown and what can get into it.

FORBIDDEN ASIAN BLACK RICE SALAD

2 Cups Black Rice, picked over
3 Cups Water
1 Yellow Pepper, finely diced
1 Red Pepper, finely diced
1 Large Carrot or a Handful of Baby Carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 scallions (green onions), finely chopped
Handful Thai Basil, about 10 leaves chopped

DRESSING

1/4 Cup Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Freshly Grated Ginger, about a 1 inch knub
1 Clove of Garlic, finely minced
Zest of One Orange
Juice of One Lime
3 – 4 Tablespoons Agave Nectar, or to taste depending on how sweet you like things

Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, zest, lime juice and agave with a whisk or a hand immersion blender until smooth. Reserve.
Check the rice over for pebbles or other impurities.
Rinse the rice, then leave it to soak for about 5 minutes. Drain well and add to a large sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.
Cover the rice with the 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat for a low simmer and cover for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the heat and leave it covered for another 5 – 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle over the prepared dressing then add the diced pepper, carrot, scallions and basil.
Toss well to combine the vegetables with the rice.
Garnish with additional citrus zest or basil leaves if desired.
No need to cool. Best served at room temperature, making it a perfect summer outdoor salad.